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The Many Sides of Peru

This summer marks the third College of Education faculty-led study abroad trip to Peru. Dr. Melissa Gibson and 11 of our students are studying and learning in Lima while also traveling the country. Their blogs are originally posted on Marquette Meets Peru, and we’re excited to share them with you!

By Mary Kate Jezuit

It is hard to believe that we have already been in Peru for a week. This week has been very eye-opening and has made me excited to continue with the program. I have realized what I want to get out of my time in Peru and how I want to approach our experiences here. I have learned a lot about Peruvian culture, but also about the inequalities and various faces of Lima, and Peru in general.

The theme of this first week for me has been acclimation, but also centering myself through reflection. Visits, tours and lectures were overwhelming in the moment, as I found myself trying to take in every last detail. It is more important, however, to think back on the things that stand out and stay with me hours after I leave. Those are the things that are inspiring curiosity within me and that I can elaborate and reflect more on. Through seminars, long bus rides, my own journaling and these blog posts I hope to be able to process what I have experienced and think of questions I have and connections to things I am familiar with in the United States. Through reflection, I have come to realize that my goal for this program is to be present and take full advantage of everything I can learn and experience here, but to also use down time to think more deeply about what I have seen and what it can mean in the systematic context of education and on a personal level.

City_of_Lima,_PeruFrom our introductory lecture at UARM on the first day, I got a sense of why Peru was an ideal location for our studies of education. I was surprised to hear how the geographical diversity of Peru contributed to the education system and the socio-economic classes of Peru. Education and other resources are far more accessible and well-resourced in Lima, for the most part. In the Jungle and the Highlands, communities are usually poverty-ridden and high-quality education is scarce, so only the very best students continue to a college education, in Lima. The development of pueblos jovenes, however, has changed the dynamic of education and social class in Peru. Many people moved from the Highlands and the Jungle to these pueblos jovenes, located in the hills of Lima, for better opportunities for employment, claiming land and starting again with almost nothing. Overtime, these pueblos jovenes become more developed, but it is still hard to access education, or the residents cannot afford it.

Visiting one of the newest pueblos jovenes, Pamplona Alta, made me realize how difficult it can be for their residents to access water and the rest of Lima. This was probably the most powerful experience I have had in Lima thus far. It was a long journey, but it showed the stark contrast between the wealthy areas and the pueblos jovenes, separated by the Wall of Shame. I was surprised at how quickly the scenery changed from extravagant homes on the ocean to small homes with metal roofs. In the United States, I feel like it is more common for there to be a greater separation between classes. The Wall of Shame sends a very obvious message that there are certain people who the wealthier side of the wall does not only not want to associate with, but also to not be able to have the resources or potential for economic mobility. This is a blatant display of power that reminded me of what we read in Nyberg’s “A Concept of Power.”

Nyberg discusses how power exists anytime there is a relationship between two individuals as well as the four forms it takes. This example of the Wall of Shame reminded me of the fiction form of power, where the party with more power is able to create the narrative of the people they have power over. The people with more power were obviously the ones who built the wall, which begs the question of where their power came from and who consented to this power. This is obviously a loaded question, with no clear answer, but the general answer is usually along the lines of power being associated with economic wealth. In this situation, the people of the pueblos jovenes may seem next to powerless; however, they are able to exercise power through creative means. The residents of Pamplona Alta installed fog catchers to repurpose the water from the fog for their own use. They also are able to begin to exercise their own power by opening up stores and installing dry toilets for themselves, which symbolize upward mobility and progress. Though these neighborhoods may be poor monetarily, they are rich in so many other things, which was quite striking to me. From walking around for a few minutes and meeting some of the residents, it was obvious that they were family-oriented, driven and positive people. The community shared a close bond and there were signs of innovation and progress everywhere. A teacher of mine would always discourage us from using language like “poor/bad” to describe low-income neighborhoods because it diminishes the assets that these communities already have. I kept being reminded of this when visiting both Pamplona Alta and El Augustino and through our discussions of looking at what strengths a community has as opposed to all the things that need to be fixed. Seeing these assets first-hand gave context for this idea and I could not agree with it more.

All that I have experienced this week, brings up a topic we discussed quite frequently: Why are we here? It is true that we are neither tourists nor simply volunteers. We are here to learn. Volunteering has a connotation of serving somewhere for a certain amount of time and then leaving and returning to your normal life. Learning means that we are taking what we see and do in schools and communities in Peru back to the United States and using it to inform our studies at Marquette and professional lives. We are studying both the pedagogy we encounter in Peru and how it comes into play in the context of vast socio-economic inequalities. This idea is central to the way I will approach future experiences and will ensure that I am truly learning.

Dear Future Teacher

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Just the Beginning…

This summer marks the third College of Education faculty-led study abroad trip to Peru. Dr. Melissa Gibson and 11 of our students are studying and learning in Lima while also traveling the country. Their blogs are originally posted on Marquette Meets Peru, and we’re excited to share them with you!

By Allie Bosley

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We’ve been here for 6 full days now and yet it seems like it’s already been a month! When I decided to go on this trip to Peru, I truly didn’t know what to expect, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised. The people are so kind, the food is better than anything I could ever make and I am already learning so much. We came to Peru to experience, something that seems so simple but I’m sure some of you reading that this includes volunteering or being a tourist. We are not here on a mission, this is not charity work nor is it a site seeing voyage, but it is an opportunity to understand a different way of life, to hear from people that are so similar yet so different from myself. I think one of the most important things I have taken away from just experiencing is that this is not a time to pity, to feel bad, or to have a privilege check.

In the The Voluntourist’s Dilemma by Jacob Kushnerit discussed the way that people often times come on a one week trip to underdeveloped countries, with no skills in building and with no invitation to come help, yet take it upon themselves to build a school or play with the orphanage kids. These things can cause serious economic and social disruptions in the communities because they are not sustainable contributions. Life is so vastly different here than it is in Wisconsin or Vermont, that it’s not a matter of who has more or less, but rather a comparison of ways of living. There are simple differences like not being able to flush your toilet paper down the toilet, cars honking constantly, and people being open to greeting you on the street. Then there are the complex differences such as building homes out of scraps, having a water supply from fog, or using sawdust toilets — we really need to jump on this water-saving technology.

The biggest connection that I see between Peru and the US is inequality amongst the citizens. There are people with enough money to eliminate hunger in their country and there are people that do not have enough money to buy food every day. In Inequality in Peru: Realty and Risks by Oxfam, which we read before we left, it talked about the differences in rural versus urban living. There is a lack of resources, opportunities and education in rural areas that makes being successful that much harder. One thing that was very striking is how inaccessible clean water is. Billions of houses are not connected to a clean water supply and if they are, it costs 3–10 times more money than it would for those living in an urban area because of the challenge getting the water to those locations. Another inequality is the income gap. Those living in the highlands and the jungle are twice as likely to be in poverty than those that live in the coast. This is, again, thanks to the lack of opportunity and resources. It is harder to find jobs that will pay a livable wage, when you also need to spend a good majority of your time caring for your children and parents, growing food, and finding water. One last large inequality we see here in Peru is based on how indigenous an individual is. Those that are 100% indigenous are twice as likely to be poor compared to those that are not. Education can also much easier to access and of higher quality on the coastline, and specifically more urban areas. Tomorrow we will visit one of the nicest schools in Lima, called Colegio La Inmaculada, and we will get to experience what schooling is like there, with the context that there are places where school can not even be in session for a full day because there is not enough money to pay the teachers. I am curious to see what differences and similarities we will encounter.

Today, I had the opportunity to go to Miraflores, which is a very nice district on the coast of Peru. In the 15 minute drive I noticed just how different the city was street to street. This part of the city was very green, there were beautiful skyscrapers, and like the article notes, more light skinned Peruvians. While it was clear to me why it was like this, it was still very surprising to me. Differences like calmness in the streets, less people and stunning houses were all indications that this district was very financially stable. While it was cool to see this area, it also made it very clear to me that this city is divided and that not everyone is being given what they need to thrive. I think things like inequality are so important to talk about when studying abroad because it follows you everywhere. There are few places in the world where there is no inequality. Especially in a country where there is presidential corruption, you can see how it affects the people. The interested of a small percentage are put in front of the interests of the entire country because of finances. We must look at this and understand this is and be aware of the fact that there are people that are not being given the same love as others and that their voices are being taken away from them because the government knows if they get those resources and opportunities and find their voices they will take back their power as well. It is important to recognize these inequalities so that you can also realize how important your voice is, how meaningful it can be and how much we all deserve to have our voices.

As I look back on this week, I have found that reflection has really helped me. We have been encouraged to try multiple forms of reflection. For my internal reflection, I have been journaling and taking time to myself through meditation. The journaling has been a great way for me to be able to remember the things that take place during that day and really process all of the emotions I went through. The meditation part of my internal reflection, I use are time to clear my head and turn down the outside world. We do external reflection as a group and bounce our thoughts off of each other. I think this is vital so that you can hear what other people’s experiences are and learn from what they saw and heard.

All and all, this first week has been even better than I expected! Another update will be out in a week, chau!

Dear Future Teacher

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What I Learned in My First Year at Marquette

19260312_1571859482847597_3920726082226429607_n-700x503By Kathryn Rochford

Hi everyone!

Happy Summer! I recently just finished my freshman year here at Marquette and boy, did I learn a lot. I challenged myself academically, physically and mentally. I grew and changed in so many ways. I met some of my best friends here, I started a new sport, and I connected with professors and fellow students in class. I cheered on our boys’ basketball team all the way through March Madness. Also, it goes without saying, I even survived the polar vortex in Milwaukee, which is one of the most impressive feats of the school year.

While this year was full of so many ups and downs, I’m so happy to be here at Marquette, and especially in the College of Education. I’d like to share the top 5 things I learned from my first year of college.

College is both harder and easier than you expect it to be.
Yes, I know that seems like I’m contradicting myself, but it’s true! The hardest part of college, especially at the beginning of each new semester is adjusting to a new schedule, new professors and their teaching styles, and fresh faces in your classes. You might think you’ll have tons of time since classes only take up a fraction of your day, but between studying, working out, making time for friends, eating at relatively normal hours and getting a somewhat functional amount of sleep, it’s harder to balance than you think!

The easiest part of college I found comes with course load and making friends. As with most things in life, I quickly learned you will get out what you put in. Balancing course load is easy when you’re proactive, have your syllabus laid out every night, and have a master calendar to check on upcoming deadlines. Making friends, while intimidating at first, gets easier when you get involved in clubs you’re passionate about. It may take some time, but when you find those quality friends, hold on to them.

Having a reusable water battle is a blessing.
Yes, yes, we’ve all heard how important drinking water is, but you don’t really think about just how important it is until it’s 4 p.m. in Milwaukee and it’s still 90 degrees out and your building has no air conditioning. Trust me, you’ll want to hydrate yourself as much as humanly possible. Bonus, it helps save the turtles and cuts down on plastic waste! A reusable water bottle with a filter built into it is even easier to use since you can fill it up at any tap.

Don’t bother bringing your whole wardrobe from home.
Not only does this take up way too much space in your itty-bitty dorm room, but it’s also stressful to pack at home. And then when you do go home for break, you have no clothes to wear because they’re all back up at school. My advice: go through the clothes you own, as likely you own more than you think, and donate the clothes that don’t fit, don’t get worn, etc. You help others in the long run, and you free up some space in that closet of yours. Bringing your whole wardrobe is kind of pointless because if you’re like me, you’ll only alternate between the same few bottoms and maybe 10-15 tops until laundry day anyway. Bottom line: no matter how much you’re tempted, DON’T DO IT.

Learn how to write a professional email.
This skill is incredibly useful for so many reasons, whether it’s looking for an internship, writing for a scholarship or addressing professors, administrators and advisers. Always have a subject line that explains the problem, or if possible, highlight the class and section you’re in so professors can be more prepared to respond to you individually. Greetings are huge, and when in doubt for a class, always say professor or doctor. Get in the habit of addressing your question in paragraph form: explain what your question is, how you interpreted the solution and then ask for their suggestion to the solution. Then, explain how you can be contacted and various meeting times if needed. Always proofread for clarity and/or grammatical/spelling errors, too. By creating this habit, it establishes you as a student that invests in their learning and understanding of content, as well as helps to establish a relationship with professors.

Milwaukee is a fun city: explore it.
Looking back at this past year, the one thing I wish I had done more of was explore. First semester, I hardly even visited downtown Milwaukee, and I only ever left campus to run errands or go to the mall. Once I found my best friends, I found I had so much more fun during the week by doing quick runs to the beach, to Kopps, or Aloha Poke. Those fun little adventures created memories I’ll never forget and helped me to realize that there’s so much I haven’t seen or done yet that I can’t wait to do sophomore year. That’s the beauty of being in a big city: there’s a restaurant for nearly every culture, concerts for every music taste, and beautiful views of the skyline at night or the lake on a sunny afternoon. But, make sure you are aware of your surroundings: have a charged phone, headphones so no one bothers you but you can hear what they are saying, google maps pulled up on your phone or easy access to an Uber or the bus system. I learned more than book smarts here at Marquette, I also learned some street smarts too, and safety is of utmost importance in a big city. My biggest tip for any incoming freshman is to explore and take advantage of the warm days while you’ve got them, otherwise before you know it it’s snowing on the second to last week of school and all you want to do is stay inside.

Freshman year: you were fun, and you taught me a lot. Bring it on sophomore year!

 

The New Normal

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Street art in Miraflores, Lima.

This summer marks the third College of Education faculty-led study abroad trip to Peru. Dr. Melissa Gibson and 11 of our students are studying and learning in Lima while also traveling the country. Their blogs are originally posted on Marquette Meets Peru, and we’re excited to share them with you!

By Melissa Gibson

Temblor: A new word in my repertoire to describe my experiences in Peru. Temblor: tremor, or what you feel during an earthquake. In the wee hours of Saturday-into-Sunday, Peru’s Amazon jungle was struck by an 8.0 earthquake, and here in Lima we woke up to a minute of door-rattling, bed-shaking temblores. To me, it was terrifying. My Peruvian friends have told me too many times about how Lima is overdue for a major earthquake and how damaging it will be to the poorer parts of the city, so when the temblores started, my heart raced to keep pace with the shaking—even though, by earthquake standards, the shaking was pretty mellow. When it stopped and Google’s disaster alerts told me everything I needed to know to be reassured, I still couldn’t sleep. Every rattle of a door, every creak in the mattress jolted my heart back to racing.

The next night, as I turned off the lights for bed, I felt a wave of anxiety wash over me, and I had to talk myself down: There was nothing to be nervous about. Go to sleep. Deep breaths to calm my racing heart. It’s not earthquake season. The epicenter was hundreds of miles away. Probability is in our favor. Eventually, I gave in to an uneventful night of rest.

So imagine my surprise when, Monday night, I am sitting in my bed finishing up my preparation for the next day’s seminar and: temblor. No more than ten seconds, but the shaking was now unmistakable. A 4.6 on the outskirts of Lima, barely perceptible to Limeños because, as my friend Marisol says, they happen all the time with the change of season. (In fact, I am reminded of my first time in Lima when the toilet started shaking, and I only realized it was an earthquake the next day when people were talking about it at school.) Yes, more precarious neighborhoods evacuated their houses Saturday night just to be safe, but on my street? The neighbors partied through the whole thing, cumbia band and all. And on Monday night, I gave myself a little pat on the back that my heart stayed at a normal pace and I was able to fall asleep, earthquake anxiety at bay.

This is what it is to spend time in a foreign country not as a tourist. So many things are anxiety-producing when you first encounter them: The traffic. The piles of ceviche. The fresh fruits and salads. The toilet paper situation. The jumble of Lima’s streets. The conversations in Spanish. The walks through crowded market streets with a group of 30. The visit to a pharmacy. The mysteriously uncooperative ATM. The temblores. But then a day passes, a week passes, and without realizing it, you’ve slipped from anxious unknowing to a new rhythm of daily life. New words, new ideas, new experiences.

This first collection of blog posts from our 2019 Marquette University study abroad experience, “Education in the Americas,” lets readers in on what this process of learning a new normal feels like. You’ll hear about the students’ host families, their first impressions of Lima, their muddled conversations in Spanish. You’ll also hear them trying to make sense of it all—because, after all, this is a study abroad experience. And that’s where I come in. Our month is designed so that students acquire the philosophical and pedagogical tools to make sense of what they’re experiencing and then to transfer those understandings back to their home contexts. I don’t just want them to know the word temblor, and I don’t just want them to roll with the experience Limeño style; I also what them to be able to articulate why that experience matters.

In this first week, our conversations in seminar have focused on naming the power dynamics and structures of inequality that we encountered, and trying to locate ourselves in those systems through Ignatian-inspired reflection. While I have assigned the readings and designed the experiences, the students have to bring all the pieces together for themselves, for their own sense-making. This can be challenging for me as the teacher. There’s so much I want them to know! But I remind myself that the purpose of our month abroad is not to make them experts in philosophy or sociology of education but to help them learn how to think critically about unequal social contexts of schools. Our purpose is, yes, to experience a new normal, but in doing so, I hope we will begin to see our own normal through new eyes.

The Jesuits here talk a lot about acompañamiento, the process of accompanying or being with someone as they experience and wrestle with life. Accompaniment is an act of solidarity, of partnership, of being in life together. When done well, from a spirit of humanizing and constructivist pedagogies, accompaniment is also what we do when we teach. In this month, I am accompanying my students on their journey into a new normal, and I am accompanying them as they then navigate back to our home contexts of schooling.

These blogs are an invitation to you, dear readers, to accompany us on our journey, as well. We invite you to read in solidarity with our experiences, however imperfect or partial our sense-making may be after only one week into the trip. Let us know through comments what you’re thinking as you read, what questions you have for us or want us to answer, or what perspectives you might bring to our experiences. Accompany us as we consider justice, education and Peru.

 

Getting to Know Our Students: Jennifer Gaul-Stout

We are continuing our series getting to know our students! You can get to know more of our students and our faculty/ staff on previous posts. Read on to meet Jennifer Gaul-Stout, one of our doctoral students in the Educational Policy and Leadership Department!

RCP_4668My name is Jennifer Gaul-Stout, and I am a doctoral student in Educational Policy and Leadership. I finished my coursework last fall and am getting ready to start working on my dissertation! I am studying how citizens use their understanding of science, specifically surrounding environmental issues, to try to enact policy change.

I grew up in Cresco, Iowa. It is a tiny farming community in the northeast corner of the state. I’ve lived in Milwaukee for 12 years — way longer than I ever thought I would… My husband is an Marquette College of Education graduate! He also has his Master’s degree from Marquette and is currently the Associate Dean of Undergraduate Admissions. Our family is all MU all the time! We have a son who is 2.5 years old and is the sweetest kid you’ll ever meet.

I took a somewhat untraditional route to teaching. My undergraduate degree is in environmental science and theatre. After graduation I moved to Colorado and worked as an environmental educator for the Gore Range Natural Science School in Avon and for Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes Park. After six months, the Midwest called me back, and I began trying to figure out my next step. After a couple of years of reflection (and working jobs that I didn’t enjoy) I realized that the happiest time for me was when I was teaching people of all ages about the what I love, the environment! I joined the Urban Fellows Educational Program at Mt. Mary University and received my M.A. in Education along with my teaching license. I spent the next seven years teaching science and math to 5th-8th grade boys.

While I loved my time in the classroom, I missed being a student. With the support of my amazing husband, I left my teaching job and began working on my doctorate here at MU. In addition to being a student, I’ve had the amazing opportunity of teaching elementary science methods to pre-service teachers.

When I’m not in the classroom, I have to confess that I am absolutely obsessed with The Great British Baking Show. For Christmas a few years ago my husband got me a cookbook based on recipes from the show, and I’ve been Julie and Julia-ing my way through it since. I absolutely LOVE baking! A lot of the work I do involves abstract, theoretical thinking so there is something very relaxing and satisfying about following a recipe step-by-step and creating something that brings other people (mainly my husband) joy!


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